The weather broke the very day after I showed you this picture of the brave little sassafras tree in my backyard, forging ahead with her plans for fall, despite an uncooperative forecast. It turned cold and wet, and stayed that way for days. Then the sun came out, but the mercury stayed down, and at my ten-year college reunion two days ago, I packed a scarf and an extra jacket, just in case the heat from the bonfire wasn’t enough. (It was, just.)
So now that fall is really here, my thoughts turn to a different kind of comfort food. In the long summer months, I want to live on heaps of crunchy lettuce, cold melon, and homemade peach popsicles. Now, it’s warm apple crisp on my mind, and mashed potatoes and, of course, soup of any stripe.
When moving across the country, there are a few things one must leave behind. It’s a logisitics issue: unless you travel in way more style than I’ve ever dreamed, the contents of your freezer cannot go with you. This means saying goodbye to, among other things, three half-gallon ziploc bags of frozen cubes of homemade stock–vegetable, chicken, and bone broth, to be exact. The inconvenience of not having these things in one’s freezer when, in one day, summer becomes fall should not be underestimated.
A few days ago, I bought a lovely chicken from a lovely woman at the tailgate market. It was raining, and it was cold, and I was having a hard time not falling in love with every bunch of collard greens and every bag of apples I saw. (Other people have this problem, too–right?) I roasted it the next day, and today its carcass is destined for the stock pot. And just in time, too–yesterday, the Man Friend left work early, planted himself on the couch, and registered an unexpected number on the thermometer, which then got an unfortunate song stuck in my head:
I’m sorry. That was uncalled for. You probably have it stuck in your head now, too. I have these occasional fits of meanness. They are (mostly) uncharacteristic, but rather persistent. Once, in the eighth grade, my English teacher played one of those quiz games with the class to help us learn some reading assignment or other for an upcoming test. He gave out Krispy Kreme doughnuts for correct answers. (Let me add that we didn’t have a single Krispy Kreme in the entire county, so this was kind of special. Let me also add that our classes were pretty small, so we’re not talking large quantities, either–just one box.) Down the to last doughnut, I answered correctly and took possession of my prize. Then Meghan Johnson’s hand shot up in protest, and she said she’d gotten the right answer, too, and it wasn’t fair for me to get the last doughnut. Well now. Mr. Boyd said we’d have to share, and Meghan glided out of her desk and across the room to claim her half. I can’t really explain what happened next. It wasn’t planned, and I knew it was wrong while I was doing it. (Kind of like posting the Foreigner video.) I looked her right in her smug little eye and licked the doughnut on all sides.
She withdrew her claim.
I felt like a heel, but hey–I had a whole doughnut.
I’m sorry about the song, but his temperature really was (is–he’s still on the couch) 103. 103.4, to be exact. Which brings us back to the chicken: I don’t know if it was the rain, the sudden thirty-degree drop in temperature, or my plan to restock my stock of stock (again, I’m sorry) that tempted the Cootie Fates, but he’s sick, and I, though still normothermic, am starting to feel a little run-down and in need of soup myself.
I don’t have proof that soup alone will cure what ails us (that’s why we’re supplementing with hot toddies just in case), but I have a good hunch that it will help.